After by Kevin Murphy

For the trigger ‘after’:
An extract from my work in progress: After I left the monastery.
40 years later, fellow novice Brother Fidelis – Liam Murachu – wonders about the departure of Brother Bernard – Sean ‘Tack’ McIntire.


Tack didn’t wait for an answer, turned and headed into his room.

Cell, thought Liam, glancing at his closed door. He looked down at his heavy plaid shirt and brown cords, noticed the matching cardigan in the floor, dreamily draped it over his arm, stretched and yawned.

Tack’s Treasure card peeped out of a pocket. His back cracked as he bent to pick it out. Why bother? The flop onto the bed, was more of a pour. He seeped into the mattress.

A magpie’s nest. On the floor of the copse, after the bushfire. A glass bead, oily skinned, rolled across his palm, left a trail of ash. Fine dust. Black. Good soil, black soil, son. A stick – a gold stick – brass screw, cleaned by the fire. An ear ring. His mother’s. The pang of it. The ring bent. The pearl dulled. Silver paper. He picked it up, smoothed it on his palm, purple on the other side. Quality Street – Mam’s favourite. Dad – leave it fo’ y’mam. Treasure.

Woken by pins and needles in his hand, he continued to think of the treasured dream. Tack thinks I am one of his precious gems – yet he made me feel like an unwanted toffee wrapper. Shame he could not remember anything – so why was that? Pain, bury it. He rested the tingle on top of his chest. He felt it make a fist as he decided to grab the ember, take the pain, and then what? Alone with the Novice Master. Father Cuthbert had got the best from Brother Bernard, but he had left too. Three months to go after Bernard left, so we … he tried to picture the steel Geordie weighing the word we. Father Cuthbert brought no image to Liam’s mind – only his lifelong friend Jim Durkin. That was it – Fidelis and Cuthbert, two people thrown together and finding themselves as Liam and Jim. Finding each other. They had best make a go of it. Cellmates became … Liam hated the word mates. Of course they became their title, they were Brothers.

After Brother Bernard reverted to Sean McIntire. He didn’t tell me why.


Pete has come up with another of his stories incorporating song titles – a great writing challenge for any fan – of books, songs … whatever – GB Stamps?
He had underlined the titles, but we’re going to have more fun: Cliff Richard is the only act to have had a number one single in the UK in five consecutive decades, so even some young ones will know quite a few. (Did you see what I did there?) It’s not an exhaustive list – but how many of the 34 contained, can you find?


In the early 80’s I was in my early 30’s and feeling like a bachelor boy after splitting with my wife Samenita.

For my summer holiday, I decided to take in the sights of Rio de Janeiro and visit the famous Copacabana Beach, a place I had always dreamed of, after hearing the song by Barry Manilow.

My second day there was the day I met Marie. To me, she was the most beautiful girl in the world.
We happened to meet on the beach , where she was dancing very provocatively. It was her wonderful tanned skin and slim body that attracted me to her, and I couldn’t blame it on the Bossa Nova. I felt good vibrations, and as a lump came into my throat, I nervously told her. “I think I’m going to fall in love with you.” It felt like a schoolboy crush all over again.

Her little hand tightened its grip on mine. “Yes, I could easily fall in love as well.”

In a soft voice she whispered, “Move it!” as my hand gently fondled her inner thigh.

“Do you want to dance?” she asked.

“No not really.” I had visions of showing myself up. I believe in the old saying, walk don’t run.

“By the way, you haven’t even asked my name.” she said, with a twinkle in her eye.

“Oh, I’m sorry. What is it?”

She smiled. “It’s Samantha.”

I must have looked surprised. “That’s funny, my last partner was called Sam; so it’s a case of goodbye Sam, hello Samantha.”

This tickled her. “And what’s your name?”

“Tony Nobel. My friends call me Dynamite.”

“Why?” she looked bemused.

“Well it was a chap called Nobel who invented it.”

“Do you still see Sam?” she asked.

“Afraid not, you see we don’t talk anymore, it wasn’t what you’d call a wonderful life. She was always saying things to get me going, so I used to tell her, wind me up, let me go.”

Samantha frowned, “surely she wasn’t that bad?”

“That Bad? she was a Devil Woman. As far as I’m concerned, she is just a voice in the wilderness.”

“Did you have any children together?”

“Oh yes, I have a boy of eight and twin girls aged three. The young ones, I really miss, as they now live miles away in the country.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I suppose, that’s life and it’s all in the game. Sadly, she’s told the kids, don’t talk to him.”

At that moment, she reached up to wipe a tear from my eye, before kissing me with those lucky lips. Oh boy! was she a living doll! 

“The minute you’re gone, I’m going to miss you.” she said.

“I’m not going to leave you, please don’t tease me”

“Congratulations!” she cried.

“What for?” I asked.

“You’ve won!” she giggled.

“Won What?”

“You’ve won my heart. Let’s get back to your hotel.”

Picking up the bath towels, we left the beach, traveling light in just
our swimwear and thinking of that cosy double bed, waiting for us.

“Who is going to be a lucky boy then?” she winked.

It’ll be me, I hope. As I switched the light off, I thought, I miss you nights.

File:Sir Cliff Richard Allan Warren.jpg


bachelor boy
summer holiday
the day I met Marie
the most beautiful girl
on the beach
blame it on the Bossa Nova
good vibrations
fall in love with you
schoolboy crush
I could easily fall in love
Move it
Do you want to dance?”
walk don’t run
By the way
goodbye Sam, hello Samantha
we don’t talk anymore
a wonderful life
wind me up, let me go
Devil Woman
voice in the wilderness
The young ones
in the country
it’s all in the game
don’t talk to him
lucky lips
living doll
The minute you’re gone
please don’t tease
travelling light
It’ll be me
I miss you nights

The Rainbow’s End by Kara Wilkinson

It came so quick from so far and wide,
Our hectic world just taking a dive.

We have all had to take it all in our stride,
The commute to work just being set aside.

This little virus that we can’t even see,
Has changed our world and where we will be.

Our schools have closed and kids are bored,
But it’s given us time to sort all that we hoard.

Some of us have been given permission to chill,
While others have struggled with this time to fill.

Most of us needed this time to sleep more,
Where others may think now rest is a chore.

Where we once wanted a shop just to buy time,
We are all watching it grow, I think it’s called thyme!

We take to the streets to praise the NHS,
Did it have to come to this to prove our gratefulness?

With a rainbow shown on every pane of glass,
To show all that could see, if they should pass.

Now there’s a queue at every single shop,
Where pubs are all closed no chance of a drop!

We’ve become masters in things we’ve never even tried,
We’ve also been scared, some even cried.

Support groups have popped up almost everywhere,
Showing us all that we all really care.

Most of us humans are all wearing masks,
While mums are at home setting school tasks.

If you can’t do your gig, sing it on your drives,
Sell takeaway paella and get grassed in disguise!

Not much can now come from abroad, over sea,
People are giving Boris Johnson the 3rd degree.

Keeping this virus all in our focal,
Until we can get down to our jolly local!

Shopping around means we can get our walk,
Using our high street butchers for pork.

Care workers, frontline and all the like.
Just stay at home for now to cure the bloody spike!

If the media, news just makes you feel down,
Remember who you are and straighten up your crown.

It’s a first, yes B&Q run out of paint,
While your Nan’s at home acting like a saint!

Keep your spirits up and flying high,
But watch out now your local neighbours a spy!

Lock down lessons can now be found,
As long as you don’t have your friends around!

Who knew Sandra could do a facebook live?
Here’s a special mix, live local from Clive!

This horrible virus called Covid- 19
Will piss off a bit quicker if we all use hygiene!

So carry on with your community spirit,
So go on give Love, Cum’ on let’s ‘ere it!

‘No More After Me’ by Barrie Purnell

I am the last of the line
There will be no more after me,
I have no sons or brothers to carry my name
When I die we will just cease to be.

I am the last of the line
When young I never gave it a thought,
Now I am older I think it’s a loss to the world
Then again ……. maybe it’s not.

I am the last of the line
As a result of inadequate conception,
I produced no progeny of either sex
But extinction was not my intention.

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Prompt for this week

I hope you are all still keeping well, and coping ok with the continuing lockdown. Many of us now are dreaming of returning to some semblance of normality, wondering what the new world will look like post lockdown.

So this week we are giving a nod to that concept and we’re asking you to write something using the prompt:


Of course, it doesn’t have to relate to the current situation at all, it could be about after you’ve eaten (or drunk) too much; after a losing (or winning) game; after the party; or with VE day remembrance in mind… after the war. As usual, these are just some suggestions to get you going… let your imagination loose and write in any form you like: poetry; fiction; creative non-fiction; prose poetry….. well, you get the gist… any old way that gets your pen or your fingers on the keyboard moving. Have fun.

‘The Book Keeper’ by Barrie Purnell

Barrie wrote this wonderful and imaginative piece in response to last week’s picture prompt. Please do share yours with us too.

I’ve travelled across an ocean of unused words,
Climbed over the high walls of my pride,
Pushed through a forest of rejections
Only to find her on the other side.

She was the custodian of every written word
Who looked upon all writers with disdain,
Working with her soulless keeper of books
It’s metal hand recording each author’s name.

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